Flight simulator offers new experience

Whitney Winter, Staff Writer

Imagine flying over your hometown with snow and severe turbulence or landing on an aircraft carrier in the middle of an ocean.

This, and more, is possible with the Redbird full-motion flight simulator at the Wayne Municipal Airport. Travis Meyer, who will take his private pilot license test next month, and Jason Beiermann, a private pilot, showed off the newest addition to the airport.

Meyer said he wants “to get more involved with Wayne State” by possibly starting a flying club on campus. Meyer also said he wants more junior high and high school students to be involved with the airport and the Northeast Nebraska Aviators Club. The flying club became incorporated in November 2019 and is in the process of becoming non-profit. Once a non-profit club, it plans on acquiring an airplane or two.

The Redbird system is designed to simulate a Cessna 172, a single engine plane. Meyer said there are only three flight simulators in the state of Nebraska: the one in Wayne, one at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and one at University of Nebraska-Omaha.

The Redbird has every airport in the world in its system, Meyer said. Beiermann flew in the simulator and said “steering is really hard to get used to,” referring to the feet pedals used to steer and brake while on the ground. The yoke is used to steer the plane in the air. The Redbird’s programming can simulate any type of weather, and the operator can program in failures mid-flight.

The airport received the flight simulator funding from Enel/Tradewind Energy turbines near Allen, Emerson and Wakefield. The Redbird Creek Wind Project funds of $92,000 financed the purchase, with all the operations and gadgets the flying club wanted. They opted for a single operator version rather than the $120,000 two operator option. The flying club plans to use the money they did not use for the simulator to purchase one or two actual planes for the airport. They hope to purchase a Cessna 172 and possibly a Cherokee 180. The Northeast Nebraska Aviators club manages the simulator.

The airport is working on obtaining a key fob, so members of the club who pay to operate the flight simulator can eventually schedule times to fly outside of normal operation hours. Meyer said he wanted to give a shout out to the Wayne City Council for all of its support.

The Wayne Municipal Airport was swept away six years ago by a tornado, and Meyer said the airport wants the public to stop by the rebuilt facility and check out the flight simulator for themselves.

Wayne’s airport is a general aviation airport with a 4,200 foot runway. Since the airport does not have jet fuel airplanes, crop dusters and jets have to fly to Norfolk to refuel. Meyer said the airport hopes to someday have jet fuel so they can retain the businesses of the pilots.

Meyer also said there is a big demand for pilots and mechanics. A private pilot who flies three to four days a week can make a six-figure salary but has to have a four-year degree.

The airport is considering hosting pilot training classes. A typical piloting class has six to 10 people and a ground instructor. Students can also take online classes to obtain their piloting license.
Airplane fans should also consider checking out the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in Wisconsin. The annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts usually takes place in the last week of July. Meyer said about 260 planes fly through and land in Wayne every week around the time of this event, including former World War II planes.

People interested in classes or joining can find the Northeast Nebraska Aviators Club on Twitter @northeastnebra1 or contact Travis Meyer at (402) 369-3227 or stop in at the airport and pick up a flyer.

Whitney Winter
Jason Beiermann (shown above with his son, Baylen) operates the Redbird flight simulator